winterize article

How do you winterize a home?

Last week, we asked our panel of home improvement experts about the best projects to prepare your home for the coming winter. We got a fantastic response that highlights winterization projects for the coldest regions of the country, but also for more temperate regions that may not get frozen but can definitely benefit from some cold season preparation.

We’ve compiled as short list of our favorite tips below.

Because we got such a good response, we’ve decided to make a winterization project infographic due for release late next week, so stay tuned!

Protecting Pipes

Freezing pipes are a nightmare for any homeowner who lives in a region cold enough to freeze regularly. When the water in pipes freezes, their seals become compromised. The next time you go to use that pipe, water will drain freely from those broken seals. Often, because these breaks can occur underneath your house or behind walls, you may not notice the leaking water until it has caused extensive damage.

As Paul Abrams from Roto-Rooter explains,

“Frozen pipes can be one of the most costly and overall messy winter home disasters, so proper seasonal plumbing maintenance is extremely important in this regard.”

In particularly cold areas, buy pipe foam to place around any pipes that are not protected by your home’s insulation. For all outside spigots, wrap them in a towel or get a Styrofoam insulating cap to place over them. For a budget friendly solution, try Pablo Solomon’s tip of using recycled Styrofoam cups.

Insulate for Heat Loss

When the temperature drops outside, everyone heads for the thermostat. Keeping your home warm and comfortable during the winter season is important whether you live in frigid Minnesota or temperate San Francisco. No matter where you live, you want to make sure that the money you’re paying to keep your house warm isn’t just flying out the window. Our experts recommend checking for heat loss in dozens of places around your house including duct work, door seals, window seals, open garage doors, even high ceilinged rooms where heat gets lost up in the rafters. For most heat loss areas, better sealing will save you a bucket of cash.

Frost & Sullivan’s Building Technologies practice advises,

“Check insulation and air sealing to minimize heat flow out of the building in the winter.”

Form Meets Function

A few weeks ago, we asked our experts how to change interior design to match the changing seasons. Some of our favorite tips from that week advised changes that were both aesthetic and functional. One of the most popular changes for interior design for the winter is to switch out lightweight curtains for heavier drapes.

Ronnie Kweller from the Alliance to Save Energy highlights how heavy curtains can help save you money too.

“Put up heavy curtains and other window treatments to insulate windows even more. Keep them open during the day on west- and south-facing windows to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to keep that heat inside.”

Other form meets function changes might include adding heavy blankets to your couches and placing rugs on hardwood floors. These switches can make you feel warmer without having to ramp up the thermostat.

Exterior

The exterior of your home takes the brunt of any season’s worst punches. In the winter, this means rain, ice, snow and wind. Start your exterior winterization project by removing debris from your gutters.

Sam Lazarus from ServiceMaster by Best suggests,

“Clean gutters and downspouts of debris and leaves. Keeping clean gutters will keep snow and ice dams from forming and causing water damage to the interior of the home.”

Clean gutters don’t just help areas with ice and snow, but anywhere that can get heavy winter rainfall. If a gutter is plugged up, those torrents of water have nowhere to go, often redirecting underneath your roof causing extensive water damage.

Beyond your gutters, check all around your house for any signs of damage that could get worse with winter weather. These might include leaks, damaged siding, or exposed insulation. Once you’ve checked your house over, complete your exterior winterization projects by considering landscaping issues.

Cassy Aoyagi of FormLA Landscaping recommends,

“Remove invasive plants and infectious material which would otherwise have the chance to establish themselves.”

You can also remove dead annuals, rake up remaining fall leaves and plant hardy perennials to spruce up old flower beds. So many winterization projects are as simple as taking a look around, thinking about what areas are most vulnerable and protecting them as best you can. With a little prevention you can rest easy when winter comes knocking at your door.